With less than eight months to go to the Rugby World Cup, the final preparations to showcase Exeter Rugby Club’s facilities on the world stage are well underway, backed by a suite of funding packages from Barclays.
Exeter, alongside Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium, are the only two rugby club venues in the country that have been selected to host matches as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015 which, according to a study undertaken by EY on behalf of the Organising Committee, has estimated £39m of economic activity up for grabs for Exeter, in welcoming players, fans and visitors to the city.
The initial stages of the club’s £10m investment, aided by Barclays, began many months before the majority of the work, which has raised the stadium’s match-day capacity to 12,500 people. It was completed during the close season to get the new and improved Sandy Park ready not only for the 2014/15 season but, as importantly, the Rugby World Cup later this year.
The vast investment has not only seen a new £1m Desso-hybrid playing surface installed, the East Terrace redeveloped, and importantly the West Grandstand was transformed to accommodate both additional match-day spectators and corporate guests.
Alan Quantick, Finance Director of Exeter Rugby Club, said: “The last few years has seen Exeter Rugby Club and Sandy Park embark on a wonderful journey of change and transformation. Not only have we established ourselves as a major force within English and European Rugby, but off the field we have developed Sandy Park into the region’s outstanding banqueting and conferencing venue.
The multi-million pound help we have received over a three-year period from Barclays has been outstanding and without their backing we would not be where are today. Together we have formed a partnership that has enabled us to fulfil a significant part of our long-term vision.”
On the pitch the transformation has continued with the team moving up into the Aviva Premiership in May 2010. The 2011/12 season saw the Chiefs build on their impressive display of the previous year, finishing fifth (their highest-ever placing) in the final standings and qualifying for the first time into the Heineken Cup.
With crowds rising year on year, and the emergence of young stars from the club’s Academy structure along with the experience of playing both in the Premiership and Europe, the club lifted their first-ever piece of major silverware in March 2014, when they defeated Northampton Saints in the LV= Cup final.
Alan continued: “Moving forward, I have every confidence that Barclays will continue to be a key part of our financial arm and that our partnership will continue to grow and grow as we look to take Exeter Rugby Club and Sandy Park further forward.”
Andy Dalley, Barclays Relationship Director, Corporate Banking for Devon, said: “Exeter Rugby Club continues to go from strength to strength, both in terms of the support it receives from fans and through the strong Executive Board and management team who have developed and implemented exciting growth and long-term vision strategies. The journey over the last few years has been exciting both on and off the playing field as the club has sought to become more commercialised.”